Happiness, Health

Top-Secret Beauty Tips that Modelling Taught Me

One question I am quite regularly asked is,

“What beauty secrets have you learnt from modelling?”

Although I always seem to get on really well with MUA’s, I’m really not interested in make up at all. I usually sit in the chair, let them do their thing whilst day dreaming or chatting, and voila, there’s a much better looking girl staring back at me in the mirror.

I’m atrocious at my own make-up and don’t wear much at all when I’m not working. So I’m afraid I don’t have any make-up tips… Although Britney Spears did teach me to dab lipstick of my cheeks instead of blusher, when I was a 10 year old watching her “In The Zone” DVD.

The so called ‘tips’ that I have learned are simple and already well known:

  • Bioderma (once secret way before it became available to buy in every pharmacy in London)
  • Coconut oil erry’thing (face masks, hair masks, hand cream, sexy oils)
  • Enough water and sleep – I know it’s mega boring and seems like bullshit but it is 100% annoyingly true

I have replied with these answers, usually met with politely disappointed responses. But actually, the older I get and the more at one with myself I become, the more I realise what I have in fact learnt from my experience as a model.

So without further ado, here are my top 5 beauty secrets that no one will tell you.

1. No one is that beautiful.  

Some people ask if modelling makes you insecure. Sure, it can make you feel insecure for a number of reasons; rejection, not fitting into clothes, bitchy comments that get you right there and linger forever… But in some ways, modelling actually made me feel more secure. Because, I have seen up close, met and shared toilet cubicles with some of the most gorgeous models in the world… And not once have I been so overwhelmed by one’s beauty that I have felt disgustingly unattractive. Don’t get me wrong, they really are beautiful. But so is that girl that lives down the road from you. They’re still human. Some girls have very picturesque, doll like faces and the standard “perfect” body (yawn), yet suffer from bad B.O and even worse breath. Some move like ballerina’s yet sound like a burly truck driver. Some are simply dumb as shit.

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There’s usually two ways this scenario will pan out – I will either see a photo of a girl that makes me feel like the ugliest troll in the world, only to meet her and be shocked by her humanness… Or I will meet women who are sexy, beautiful, attractive and interesting, who’s character and aura is simply too intense to be captured in a 2d image.

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The Western world and particularly the fashion industry is far too entranced by beauty in a 2d image or a film clip that it mostly disregards the unexplainable beauty many people exude; the kind that you can’t bottle and sell, or even pin point. None of the most beautiful, attractive people I have ever met are models.

2. It. Is. Literally. All. About. Confidence. 

Not every model is an intimidatingly confident superwoman. It’s extremely human to be insecure and not entirely self assured. Many models are actually faking confidence, really really really well. And actually, that’s all anyone can do in terms of confidence and beauty; fake it until you make it.

Standing tall. Holding yourself with poise. Speaking with conviction. A smile. Easy and completely free things we can all do which make such a difference to how we feel about ourselves – as well as the less important – how others view us.

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3. Accept your body shape and focus on it’s health more than what it looks like. 

Hardly anyone is naturally that thin. I know that some girls are actually that thin even though they eat 5,000 calories a day and don’t exercise. Yeah, ok…

The majority of models’  – not the 1% of models that become super models but normal, nameless models – careers begin at 15 and end in their early twenties. A lot of them still have their childhood metabolism and prepubescent shape. Some have that typical prepubescent shape their whole lives. Plus the fact that they are taller than the average women, meaning their bodies are longer and someway stretched out. But many fashion consumers are more typical shaped women, who are a lot older than the girls they are bombarded with photos of. I don’t think a lot of people really consciously consider that.

That being said, a lot of women that do not have this natural, thin shape are ultra skinny regardless. They’ll tell you it’s from diet and exercise. But in the case of most of the models I’ve been in close contact with, it’s extreme, sometimes life debilitating: i.e no carbs, dairy or sugar EVER, no more than 500 calories for 5 days of the week, at least an hour of cardio a day, etc, etc.

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Others rely on an unhealthier life style to keep the pounds at bay. It’s a rarity to find a model in London that doesn’t smoke 20 cigarettes a day.

There is a dark side of modelling that I once thought only existed in cliche parodies. I have so many examples and anecdotes about this, but there is one so brutal it sticks out.

One of my closet model friends was working in New York for a few months signed to a top agency. During fashion week, they called her in between castings to have a “polite” word about her weight. She was “too big”. At that point she was eating under 500 calories a day (that’s a banana, two slices of bread and a few pieces of ham), exercising for two hours every morning, and at 5’11, was the skinniest she had ever been. Her Instagram feed scared me. She looked ill and a far cry from the bubbly, happy girl I love. Shocked, she told them that she didn’t know what else to do about it, since she was already fainting and crying herself to sleep. This is when they suggested she try cocaine.

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Of course, it was no secret to me that a lot of the more party loving models used cocaine and other drugs recreationally, and cocaine especially is known for it’s laxative and appetite suppressing qualities. My friend, completely without judgement, is personally against drugs and cigarettes and hardly drinks alcohol. For her to be pressured by the people that were supposed to be protecting her, so far from home, made me feel psychically sick.

I’m not judging anyone’s choices. But I do think it’s unfair that women are duped into thinking that all of these bodies were achieved in a healthy way. The majority of bodies in the fashion world are completely unobtainable for the average woman.

And I haven’t even touched upon eating disorders…

4. Be aware of the fakery. 

A lot of models were not born exactly the way you see them. Although a lot of them had lovely faces already, a good 50% of the girls I know have had nose jobs, sometimes multiple, and even more of the less high-fashion girls have had boob jobs. A few of the ‘celebrity’ models of the moment and countless ‘Instagram models’ have had undeniable face surgery, which for fashion models a few years ago was near unthinkable. I’m ashamed to say I have, more than once, found myself in a black hole of girls’ social feeds, chronicling their changing faces and attempting to pin point exactly what they’ve ‘had done’ and when. It kind of fascinates me…

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Plus, it’s important to remember that you only see models photoshopped to within an inch of their life, with Heaven-like lighting and even better angles. A lot of girls, including myself, have or still do suffer from break outs and adult acne, but you’ll never see that.

I truly believe that the next generation will grow up feeling weirdly human because of their natural human features, surrounded by alien ‘perfect’ features in the media. But that’s for another article.

5. Imperfections really are what make you beautiful. 

Picture your favourite model; Cara’s eyebrows, Cindy’s beauty mark, Iman’s neck, Lara’s gap, Erin’s nose, Lily’s hair… a lot of the most recognisable faces have something unusual about them that makes them stand out from the other hundreds of models wanting to book that gig.

Sculptor Marc Quinn described this perfectly while discussing Kate Moss.

“I think she’s got a very symmetrical face and yet when she opens her mouth she’s got slightly elongated teeth on the top row, so there is a tiny element of threateningness within her beauty, and there’s a kind of balance between seduction and repulsion going on. That’s one thing, she’s not completely flawless. It’s the flaws that make her. In all people, it’s the flaws that make you interesting.”

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It’s a lot easier to say than to do, but accepting and growing to love and appreciate your flaws in probably the best thing anyone can learn from the modelling industry. You begin to see how changeable and fluid our ideas of beauty are and how manipulated we are within societies perceptions. Once a feature or trait is confirmed as attractive and desirable, there’s an uncontrollable domino effect. However, as soon as we start to become aware of just how mindless the trends of what is considered beautiful really are, we can begin to unsubscribe from this forced ideal and truly learn to accept and appreciate our own so called flaws.

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Happiness, Health

Are You Controversy Ready?

There is a protest taking place right now in London’s Hype Park.

But what are thousands of angry Londoners gathering to demonstrate against? Armed conflict? Sexual trafficking? Environmental issues? Foreign aid? Racism?

Nope. Thousands of people are “Taking Back the Beach”, protesting a poster. 

British online fitness company Protein World’s now infamous campaign is the biggest online topic of debate since the Blue+Black / Gold+White dress.

Appearing all over the London Underground, the poster shows a stunning female model standing strong in a tiny yellow bikini, right next to the question: “Are you beach body ready?”

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And the public were so outraged about it that Transport for London have agreed to remove the ad, after countless posters were vandalised by offended commuters.

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And now non commuters all over the country are angry and getting involved, thanks to social media’s tornado effect. Hashtags such as #Everybody’sReady and #EverydaySexism have been widely tweeted.

So strong was the outrage, that the Advertising Standards Authority have received around 270 complaints, mainly under the basis that it “objectified women and that it carried the insinuation that only svelte models were ready to go to the beach.”

And so, a change.org petition was created, boasting 69,204 supporters at the time of writing (4PM Saturday 2nd May).

Furthermore, Dove and plus size clothing brand Simply Be have parodied the poster, instead featuring larger, “more realistic” models.

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Dove said, “In 2004, 75% of women felt advertising and media set unrealistic standards of beauty. Today, that figure is 66%, with the perception being that more diversity is portrayed in the images of women we see around us”.

I must state that I do not support this poster and I do not agree with the ethos it is projecting. However, neither do i agree with the majority of the public outrage and the backlash of a fitness company choosing a fitness model to front their brand.

I find it quite ironic that in the process of defaming a company for their “irresponsible” message and “body shaming”, protestors have in fact extensively body shamed themselves, as have Dove and Simply Be.

Star of the campaign, 24 year old Australian Renee Somerfield, told the Huffington Post,

“I am a real person behind the image. I work very hard and live a healthy and active lifestyle which is why Protein World chose me for their campaign. I couldn’t work every day as a full time model by starving myself, dieting or not looking after my body. Nourish your body, be kind to it and it will love you right back, no matter your size.”

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Renee looks incredible, and in my opinion, she’s not lying about being healthy. She is obviously already of naturally slim build, tall, and her physique is strong. She is apparently a vegan too (as am I), and is probably well read on nutrition and fitness. Her Instagram will give you an insight (trusted or not) into her lifestyle. 

I don’t think Renee herself is the problem. I think it’s Protein World’s ill-advised wording and thoughtless delivery of their company’s values.

“Are You Beach Body Ready?” is offensive as it suggests that we women must conform to certain standards of beauty in order to be accepted on a beach. By placing Renee next to this question, they have connected her body to this notion, suggesting that her body is “Beach Body” standard. And this is wrong. 

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But if Renee’s body is “unrealistic” and “unhealthy”, what is the general consensus of health? Being over-weight? I am sad to say that I think the support of over weight women is just as irresponsible as the original Protein World posters. There is a trend of praising larger shapes. Renee’s physique requires great discipline and effort. Whether you too want to apply yourself to this level of fitness or not, we cannot curse this body shape and praise “curvy” shapes. (I do not agree with the term curvy being thrown around to describe “larger” people. The difference between curvy and unhealthy is quite easy to see when compared.

Every body is beautiful. It is okay to not be heavily body conscious. If you chose not to look after your body strictly, or even not at all, that is okay. But be sure of yourself, true to yourself, and happy with your choice. If you hate that Renee can look like that, don’t complain about it. Except yourself or do your best to create the healthiest version of yourself.

But there is a lot more wrong with this poster than the use of a slim model. In my opinion it highlights a deeper issue much more dangerous than “fat shaming” – it supports the ever growing cultural obsession with how we look, and the constant fetishisation of women’s bodies.

See Protein World’s odd idea of good PR on their Twitter. 

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Advice, Happiness, Health, Inspiration, Interview

TUESDAY TALKS: Rudie McCree

MEET RUDIE: If you know anything about the London fashion world right now, you’ll know about Rudie McCree. This beautiful lady seems to be everywhere you turn your head; whether you’re doing some online shopping with Topshop, keeping up to date with catwalk shows or flicking through fashion magazines, her lion’s mane and pretty feline features manage to steal the attention away from the clothes she’s wearing without even trying. Envy inducing, right? Somehow, whether it’s in her fun, positive attitude, her passion for everything she’s doing or simply her inviting energy, you can’t help but fall in love with Rudie. I’ll have what she’s having.

NOT JUST A PRETTY FACE: Miss McCree is also a talented singer/songwriter with a debut EP in the pipeline. Patience not your forte? Here’s a clip from a few years ago.

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What is ‘beautiful’ to you?

To me it’s about love, the ability to love everything and everyone, it’s more of an aura than a look. Beautiful people are people who know how to love and find the joy in any moment. That’s the best way I can describe it.

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What’s your top beauty secret?

I would say just listen to your body, it has an amazing way of warning you when something’s not quite right, also meditation can increase all aspects of beauty. But if your looking for an actual product it would have to be coconut oil, it can be used as a moisturiser, for healthier and stronger hair, a makeup remover as well as a primer the benefits are endless.

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What do you love most about yourself?

It would definitely have to be my determination and self belief in myself. Once I set a goal I will not stop until I have accomplished it in spite of any set backs. And of course my hair, because why not 😉

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Happiness, Health

LIGHTENING BOLTS & TIGER STRIPES

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The media’s boring and frankly dumb obsession with adding negative connotations to our physical “imperfections” (which, by the way, are mostly completely natural and normal and healthy characteristics of the human body) eternally taint our perceptions of our own bodies and appearances as a whole.

One repeated offence which I REALLY don’t get is the issue with stretch marks:

  • external skin scarring caused by the tearing of a under layer of skin
  • mostly caused by rapid stretching on the skin (growth spurts, pregnancy, weight changes, etc.)
  • also caused by hormonal changes (puberty, pregnancy, body building, etc).

A quick Google search will show you the common opinions and conceptions of stretch marks (this list has not been edited or created for your entertainment).

“”How to Get Rid of Stretch Marks: 15 Steps (with Pictures)”

“Top 10 Celebrities Who Are Not Safe From Stretch Marks”

“Stretch Mark Removal Treatments – Types, Cost & Results”

“OMG! Models With Stretch Marks!”

“101 Reasons I Hate Being Fat!: #49 – Stretch marks”

I was kind of laughing to myself at the ridiculousness of my research, until I saw the last two examples

Why should it be such a shock that models (human beings) get stretch marks? Yes, models do get stretch marks. I know because, well, I AM a model and I DO have stretch marks. I rest my case.

Secondly, it breaks my heart a little bit that stretch marks are associated with being “fat”, which is in tern associated with being unhealthy and even ugly.

Again, I am living proof of this, having never been over a UK size 8 in my life.

Come to think of it, I’m almost sure that every woman I know has them. Yet we have been conditioned to hate them by our perfection obsessed society. Online and print publications twist words to make it sound like they’re doing us a favour by teaching us how to prevent or reverse these AWFUL SHAMEFUL UGLY imperfections. We’re recommended creams, oils, laser treatments, even skin surgery! Stretch marks’ cousin, cellulite, is another hated body “affliction”, with maybe even more crazy “solutions” for erasion.

Why should we have to go through the effort of attempted removal of things that occur on our body so naturally, wasting money, breeding negativity and demoting our self worth?

I can’t imagine any woman pre-1960’s having anxieties about stretch marks or cellulite. Then again, there was no Photoshop, no Instagram, no televised Victoria Secret catwalk show to weep over. The fashion industry is SELLING A FANTASY. I’m not one of these people that are passionate about the banning of Photoshop but I do think that people, particularly young girls, need to be aware of this. Reality and fantasy can co exist as long as we are strong enough to not allow it to cloud our judgements of ourselves and others.

So next time a magazine attempts to emotionally bully you into hating your stretch marks / cellulite / grey hair / wrinkles / any other completely NORMAL AND NATURAL physical trait, laugh in the face of ignorance. They are your badge of honour, the lines of a map of your life – be proud that you grew from girl to woman. Be proud that you went through the growth of pregnancy to create new life. Be proud that you are at the healthiest weight for your body and not the weight that a magazine tells you to be.

Next time you look down at your hips or the side of your thighs, realise how cool it is to have glistening purple and white lightening bolts etched across your skin. Would a tiger hate her stripes? 

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Advice, Inspiration, Style

A Love Letter to: Biker Jackets:

There are two things in this world that I am a self confessed sucker for: The former being a beautifully cut biker jacker made from excellent quality leather.

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The latter? Moody male musicians wearing them.

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How appropriate then, that the second offering of the ALL SAINTS Portrait Series, features “New York’s most exciting new bands, wearing men’s and women’s ALL SAINTS bikers.” They got me real good with that one. I had confirmed my order within five minutes.

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Biker jackets have been considered cooler than the flip side of the pillow since the God Daddy of cool himself, Marlon Brando, rode into Hollywood as Johnny in ‘The Wild One’  in the early fifties. Ever since, it has been a firm favourite of bad boys, punks and supermodels alike.

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Johnny Depp And Kate Moss

Anyone that has ever visited London (or even watched a Richard Curtis film) knows that the whole weather thing really is not just a figure of speech. It’s a tragic turmoil that haunts me everyday. Although, there is a silver lining in this never ending rain cloud: the one item of clothing that survives with me through an abundance of London weather, from Sunny Summer days in Sloane Square to Torrential Tsunami’s in Tottenham is the LEATHER JACKET, and there is never a wrong time to invest.

Here is a carefully compiled list of why it deserves to forever reign as Queen of the outwear Kingdom.

1. It will (probably) never ever ever go “out of fashion”

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The leather jacket will never be a nostalgic item. Even the padded, overly belted variety of the great 1980’s could be pulled off today if worn with enough confidence. It’s a classic. Period.

2. It adds a punch to the sweetest of sugary outfits.

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The leather jacket and I are now so bound to one another that If I’m wearing anything that isn’t black leather I feel grossly girly and weak. Like Samson after his haircut. I could be wearing a picnic dress, ballerina pumps and pink lipstick – slip a leather over the top and I go from Bubblegum Princess to Badass Bitch in five seconds or less.

3. It’s all-weather resilient (IF you invest in good quality)

Don’t believe me? Rain is completely rejected from your body as if you’re snuggled inside one of those plastic pram covers from your earliest memories. And if you’re not a fan of the layering/bag lady look, there are plenty with a thicker leather, fur or even inside padding, while remaining light and looking amazing. Lucky enough to be getting some vitamin D? Throw one over your shoulders in the evenings like a tomboy Gilda.

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These are my three very favourite investment pieces from the ALL SAINTS A/W14 collection.

Hainton Jacket – £698

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This is definitely as investment piece. I know it’s at the higher end of high street prices this can truly be worn season after season for years (granted to take good care of her). The British Merino sheepskin gives a good ol’ classic a little edge while keeping you cosy on those dreary winter days in London.

Range Leather Biker Jacket – £398

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Now I really hate to go all nineties DIY girl on you but… THIS JACKET HAS REMOVABLE SLEEVES. So you’re basically getting two jackets in one – one for winter, and one for spring/summer, and hopefully staying with you for a good few seasons. Perhaps not as long as a pet dog, but at least a small rabbit…

Bayes Shearing Leather Jacket – £698

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Echoing the masculine-feminine style of the original feminist fashion icon Amelia Earhart, the traditional biker design has been interpreted through a fresh, modern eye. Another investment piece (I have expensive taste, what can I say?), it’s fur is peeeeeerfect for the cold months, and also has detachable lower arms so that you can roll up your sleeves come summer.

What A/W 14 pieces are on your leather jacket Christmas List?

Check out the ALL SAINTS Portrait Series Part Two HERE.

(No images shown above belong to THE LUCKY LEO; all were taken from Google and Pinterest)

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Advice, Happiness, Health, Inspiration, Interview

TUESDAY TALKS: Maddie M

MEET MADDIE: There’s definitely something about Maddie… At 5’11 she is a long legged gazelle of a woman with a face so cute it could have been drawn for a Disney film. And yes, she may look and sound like a Scandinavian sex siren, but don’t be fooled in assuming that all you’d get from the magnificent Miss M is a glistening smile and a few girly giggles. When I’m having a down day, she’s the first person I go to for a confidence cleanse. Maybe there’s something in that Swedish air… Whatever it is, we could all learn a thing or two from this lady.

NOT JUST A PRETTY FACE: Maddie is one of the smartest women I’ve ever met and as driven as a golf ball; she is in her final year at Cass Business School, studying Business Finance with hopes of going onto grad school. How’s that for Girl Power?

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What is ‘beautiful’ to you?
I know everybody says it is what you hold on the inside but I really believe that is true. When it comes to modelling you learn how subjective beauty actually is and how everyone sees you – and your looks – differently. At the end of the day it is what you have on the inside that counts.
But I must confess I have always had an extremely weak spot for guys with nice cheekbones…

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What’s your top beauty secret?
Well except from eating healthy and not smoking it is training. And when I say train, I mean actually train, not walking with an incline on a treadmill. You know what they say – skinny girls look good in clothes but fit girls look good naked 😉
Except from that it is my gradual tan facial moisturiser, it makes me look so much better haha. Some girls can rock the pale look, but unfortunately I am not one of them.

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What do you love the most about yourself? 

My abs and my brain. I really make an effort to work out and maintain my muscle. It’s not easy but the results make it worth it!

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Advice, Happiness, Health, Inspiration, Interview

TUESDAY TALKS: Melise Williams

MEET MELISE: Originally hailing from sunny Sydney, Australia, Melise Williams is a true globetrotter; she has shot with the best photographers and walked the runways of NYC, LA, Milan, Paris, Dubai, Turkey and New Zealand (to name a few…). Lucky for us, she is currently taking London by storm with her elfin features and Aussie wit.
NOT JUST A PRETTY FACE: Miss Williams is a passionate foodie, and keeps followers up to date with ‘THE FOODIE ADVENTURES OF A TRAVELLING MODEL’ on her Instagram. She is also a talented actress in training, so watch this space!
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What is ‘beautiful’ to you?
What is beautiful to me is not what’s on the outside but what you hold on the inside – your energy! I can’t put my finger on it but it’s when someone radiates a vibrant, beautiful energy. It’s catching almost! That’s what beauty means to me.
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What’s your top beauty secret?
My secret is honestly healthy living: eating well, sleep well, get rest, and be positive and keep believing in yourself. Also I love putting pure rose water on my skin (a little tip from my amazing grandmother) Also WATER WATER WATER. And if you want to treat yourself, do. ENJOY LIFE! You only have one!
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What do you love the most about yourself? 
My determination I think. Even though sometimes I can’t see the light, a little voice inside me says keep going because everything is going to be okay. And if it’s not okay, it’s not the end!
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